New and emerging med tech is protecting more than patient health. Through advancements relating to Big Data, telehealth, and automation, these technologies are proving more powerful than ever in protecting patients’ privacy, promoting their autonomy, and optimizing the quality of care.
Protecting Patient Data
Medicine, as every practitioner knows, is a profoundly data-driven endeavor. However, because that data is derived from the medical histories of real patients with a right to privacy and self-determination, the risk of potential conflict between patients’ privacy and medical research has been a significant and long-lasting one.
Thanks to advances in data security, including new measures in data encryption, storage, transmission, and anonymization, patients enjoy greater peace of mind in ensuring that their right to medical privacy is upheld.
At the same time, however, clinicians, healthcare providers, and researchers do not have to forgo the essential data needed to support medical and pharmaceutical innovation or to facilitate evidence-based care.
Data encryption and related security technologies, for instance, prevent patient records from falling into the hands of bad actors, while anonymization technologies allow literally billions of health data points to be integrated into secure health databases.
Thus, Big Data technologies allow for the constant expansion of the pool of medical knowledge on which therapeutic innovation and efficacy depend, all without compromising patients’ personally identifiable information.
Let’s face it, going to the doctor’s office or the hospital is not exactly a pleasant experience for most people. Fortunately, the vast and rapidly growing roster of telehealth technologies available today are enabling patients to enjoy consistent and high-quality care from the comfort of their own homes.
For example, remote patient monitoring devices allow healthcare providers to securely track patients’ vital signs, collect individual health data, and even receive real-time alerts when potentially life-threatening changes in the patient’s status are detected.
These technologies aren’t just a matter of convenience for the patient, helping to avoid the hassle of in-patient care, however. They’re also powerful tools that patients and their healthcare team can use to protect the patient’s autonomy.
For example, these remote monitoring and virtual care platforms are enabling seniors and persons with disabilities to live more independently. Equipped with these devices, patients can remain in their own homes rather than being compelled for the sake of safety to transition into a long-term care facility.
Protecting Quality of Care
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the U.S. healthcare system was already burdened with a significant shortage of healthcare providers, a shortage that has taken a deep toll on patients and practitioners alike.
Fortunately, today’s technologies are helping to ease the caregiving burden, including increasing efficiency in hospitals and clinics. As has been shown, the advent of telehealth has enabled patients to receive care from home, which has tremendously benefited patients in terms of both comfort and independence.
But the capacity for patients to self-monitor from home has also proven highly beneficial to healthcare providers and health systems alike. No longer are hospital beds being taken up by patients who need only monitoring rather than hands-on care. No longer is healthcare providers’ time being consumed by watchful waiting, as these technologies do that important work for them.
What this means is that the overall quality of patient care is improved. Thanks to these technologies, practitioners are better able to provide their full attention to patients who need it most, those who require significant in-person care, while at the same preserving the quality of care home-based patients receive.
However, technology is not only protecting patient care quality through the proliferation of telehealth tools. Automation within the healthcare field is also dramatically improving the quality of patient care while helping to drive down operating costs. For example, automation has helped to substantially decrease the likelihood of medical errors while at the same time speeding and streamlining patient diagnosis and treatment planning.
Technology has long played a leading role in protecting patients’ health. Today’s innovations, however, go even further. Through the use of cutting-edge security tools, for instance, patients can now enjoy a greater measure of data privacy than ever before. At the same time, clinicians and researchers continue to enjoy access to literally billions of data points from which evolve new and better therapeutics and treatment protocols. Additionally, telehealth systems help to protect patients’ autonomy by allowing them to receive consistent care from home, often eliminating the need to seek residential care. Finally, these powerful tools are protecting the overall quality of care by increasing efficiency, particularly through automation.